zim: a desktop wiki

February 11th, 2007 edited by ana

Entry submitted by Julien Danjou. DPOTD needs your help, please contribute !

Zim is a desktop wiki. It’s a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) text editor and works like a wiki, so you can have links between your pages, and pages are stored in a hierarchical structure, which makes them easy and to browse. Zim is the perfect application to take notes and keep TODO lists somewhere in an organized fashion. It is very easy to use and you can hide it in the traycon to keep it handy.

It’s written in GTK2-Perl, it’s very small and fast. You don’t need to run a Web server, as required for a standard Wiki like Mediawiki, or to run mono like Tomboy. If you run KDE, a similar program is BasKet, but BasKet is more oriented to note-taking and it it is not supposed to be a desktop wiki.

Files are stored as plain text files and organized in directories, so you can even manage them with VCS like Subversion.

Also, it allows you have multiple repositories independent of each other.

Zim is available in Debian etch and sid (but not in sarge). It’s also available in Ubuntu since Dapper. The only known bug that looks annoying is that it’s currently not possible to print notes from zim (one can still print the text files instead).


Here you have some screenshots taken from zim’s webpage:

The editor window with all widgets visible.

Minimalistic editor window with some links.

Showing the calendar and spell checking in action.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu |

7 Responses

  1. Yaroslav Halhenko Says:

    I finally settled on using for the purpose of taking notes. Advantages: it doesn’t depend on the platform, doesn’t need server, doesn’t require any special software to manage/edit it (besides JS enabled browser), there is tons of plugins for it, easy to keep in sync using VC (eg SVN, CVS), convinient to carry around.
    I even ITPed tiddlywiki-based photo album generator ( since it looks neat. I am just wondering if it makes sense to wrap/ship tiddlywiki and some plugins along with debian as a package…

  2. markba Says:

    I recently switched from Tomboy to Zim (on Ubuntu Edgy).

    In my opinion Zim stays lean-and-mean while Tomboy is getting bloated.

    I like to use a note taking application on a central location (server) for different clients to access. This can be done with Tomboy through the use of symlinks (even easier with Zim because you can actually point to the location).

    But then I discovered that Tomboy did not check if a file is modified since reading (normal behaviour in a multi-user/client environment), I lost several hours of work. I wasn’t happy about that and from that moment on, I did not use Tomboy anymore because the application could not be trusted.

    Until I found out that Zim handles this problem very elegantly (it checks the file), I decided to switch.

    Made a bug report on Tomboy, but no response until now:
    (too late for me though)

  3. Matt C Says:

    Zim is awesome and has greatly increased my productivity. I wonder whether anyone has a strategy for getting its pages onto a real webserver so that multiple parties can collab?

  4. q455 Says:

    Zim is the best program ever, and I use it exclusively for essays, ‘notes’, etc. This is the most underrated peice of software on the planet. Its in front of me probably 2 hours a day every day.

    If only the developer would continue to put more things in it, like, i don’t know, fullscreen, inverted text, that would be sweet.

    But — best software ever — its like a wikified minimalistic wordpad.

  5. Hugo Franco Says:

    Great work, men! I just miss some few but remarkable features:

    1. Translations. Following the well stated Ubuntu philosophy, spreading this excellent app in several languages will increase Zim users exponentially.

    2. Better integration to filesystem and the implementation of a hierarchical way to sort documents in the wiki, depending on a subfolder structure which could also be exported as a web site. Adding a tree widget as lateral pane instead the current document-list widget would enhance the user interaction with the app.

    3. Automatic update of the document, which implies realtime parsing, allowing the addition of links or images (and much more things) while typing, and giving the chance of edit them inline from the document view.

  6. Bengt Olsson Says:

    Also switched from Tomboy to Zim cause it feels much lighter. I’ve made a small python script to convert my Tomboy notes to Zim notes, and thus ease the transition:

    I really hope that the developer continues to push this software.

  7. Dan Says:

    Since some of you mentioned wanting web-based wiki collaboration for this sort of personal wiki, you may want to check out Luminotes at

    It’s a personal wiki with some d to TiddlyWiki, but it’s server-based so it supports multiuser collaboration. It also has more of an emphasis on visual (WYSIWYG) editing rather than using markup.